Image by Emil Nordh
October 13th, 2018
50 km, 700 m gain
Going into SUM, as it’s called for short, we hadn’t been doing any focused training. This year’s big event was Ultravasan 90, which took place exactly eight weeks prior to SUM. Right after UV90, we had some designated recovery weeks where it was all about getting the body parts back to business. Four weeks after, we raced again – and then again two weeks after that. For us, that’s been a lot of racing! With UV90 being our fourth race ever, we’re still kids. By saying we haven’t done any focused training, I mean we never created a plan for SUM specifically. We’ve just been surfing on the UV training wave and the races we did afterwards. Our goal, however, was to make sub 4 hrs 30 min at SUM.
Stockholm offered up some gorgeous late summer weather the day of the race – some 16-17°C and just some patchy clouds. Perfect conditions! We drove in from out of town and could easily find street parking next to Björkhagens school on Karlskronavägen (total cost for the day, roughly SEK 50). The race organizers (Stockholm Long Distance Club) give you access to changing rooms at the school, which was really nice. We picked up our bibs (this you do close to the starting line, a few hundred meters from the school/changing rooms, further towards the Nacka nature reserve), got ready and then dropped our bags – these would be transported to the finish line. We did our usual warm up procedure, and as it got close to 10am, we found our spots in the field. And – off we went!
Image by Emil Nordh
The first 2.6k take you around a loop (quite a lot of ups and downs) close to the starting area, before you stretch out your legs along some flat gravel roads towards and past the Björkhagen Golf Course. Shortly after, you hit up the first trail section. From here and until roughly 20k, you’ll see a lot of trail stretches interspersed – they’re fairly technical and definitely require a good chunk of concentration (that’s also needed in order to stay on the course – it’s easy to get lost). But above all – these are some fun trails! Roots, rocks, rock faces, uphills, downhills – such a pretty course. At 17k, you pass through the first aid station. We didn’t stop but just continued onwards. This meant we passed the current second place female, Jenny, as she was refilling her bottles (she would later catch us and leave us in the dust). We carried 2×500 ml Tailwind nutrition (150 kcal per bottle) in our hydration vests, which lasted us until 42k, where we quickly refilled. After the 17k aid station, you continue to see a mix of trail and road for a few more kilometers, and then just road for about 14k (until 34k). Somewhere right before 25k, you’ll hit a long, tiring uphill (at the top of which there’s the bergspris – a cash prize awarded to the first male and female runners to pass through) and then the second aid station. Up until here, we were keeping a really good pace. We’d been running and chatting with a fellow racer and new friend, Alexander, and the kilometers had been ticking by fairly quickly. After the aid station at 25k, you go downhill for a hundred meters or so before making a right turn up a longer hill. Here, we both got a little too much lactic acid and had a somewhat hard time maintaining our previous pace from the top of the hill and onwards.
The following 9k, on pavement, came to be a mental challenge for us. Mike struggled with motivating himself to keep going, I was getting a little stressed about our pace dropping. Even though I know that’s the worst thing to do – allowing your mind to get caught up in paces and whatnot – it’s so hard to prevent it from happening! Anyway, right before the third aid station at 34k, we were caught by Jenny. We stayed together for a good while and tackled the trails – which start up again right after the aid station – as a little trio (Alexander was with us in the beginning but he stretched out his legs after a short while). With about 10k to go, Jenny started putting some meters between us and we didn’t really have what it took to keep up. Legs were definitely starting to stiffen up. At approx. 42k according to the signs (the course markers and our watches weren’t totally in agreement throughout the race – our watches noted 1.5k less more or less start to finish), we stopped for water and Coca Cola at the aid station, located right by Dalarövägen, and continued chugging along right away. We’d pass a male runner every now and then, and we were passed ourselves by a fellow UV90 finisher a couple of kilometers before the finish line. Other than that, we were mostly solo. There were no females chasing us closely, so when we came down to Rudan and started the last little loop (yes, you’ll be within arm’s reach from the finish line – but you’re not done yet!), it felt like we could relax and enjoy the ride. The last loop is a few kilometers long and does pack in some good hills. It circles the lake and takes you on a pretty beautiful tour, before you get to let it all go in the last steep downhill (but make sure you don’t trip and fall in this very last stage of the race!) and sprint towards the finish line. We came in at 4 hrs 19 min, 3rd female and 20th male.
Image by Emil Nordh
We’d recommend anyone interested in a trail ultra to go run Sörmland UM! The course is really beautiful and fun – even though you’ll spend a decent amount of time on pavement and gravel roads, the trail sections are fun and quite technical in some parts. The organizers are super friendly and helpful, all fellow racers we interacted with were wonderful and the atmosphere was just… all about the love for trail running. We left with medals, a podium and a flower bouquet and couldn’t have been happier. We took public transportation back to our car (commuter train to Farsta Strand and then subway to Björkhagen), and that marked the end of our SUM 2018. Any questions, thoughts, input? Feel free to share – we’d love to hear from you!